Exercise Nutrition:
Your Workout Depends On It!

Sports and Exercise Nutrition


If you've ever planted a garden, you know multiple factors are required to produce a healthy plant. A seed can't grow without the proper soil. Too much water will kill a plant as will inadequate sunlight. Not only must the right components be present, they must be present in the proper ratios!

Whether you're a highly trained athlete or a recreational exerciser...

...without the proper exercise nutrition - the right foods, eaten at the right times, in the right amounts - the greatest training program on the planet won't be enough to push you to your best.

Your pre and post workout meals are as important as the workout itself.

Exercise Nutrition: Pre-Workout Meals

  • Should be eaten 30-90 minutes before exercise
  • Should provide approximately .25-.5 grams carbohydrate per pound of body weight
  • Should provide 16-24 ounces of fluid

Let's assume you weigh 175 pounds:

175 pounds x .25 grams carbohydrate = 44 grams carbohydrate (round to 45 grams)

The following choices all contain approximately 15 grams of carbohydrate:

  • 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice
  • 1/2 medium sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup cooked pasta
  • 1/4 cup hummus
  • 1 slice bread or 1/2 pita
  • 6-10 crackers
  • 1 cup milk or yogurt
  • 1 apple or orange
  • 1 cup berries
  • 1/2 banana
  • 2 Tbsp. dried fruit
  • 1/2 cup canned fruit
  • 1/2 cup 100% fruit juice
  • 1 gel (Gu, Hammer, CarbBoom)

So a pre-workout meal for a 175 pound person that consists of 45g carbohydrate could look like any of the following:

  • 1 cup cooked oatmeal topped with 1/2 banana
  • 1 cup yogurt with 1 whole banana (sliced) stirred in
  • 6-10 crackers topped with 1/4 cup hummus. Eat with 1 apple
  • 1 1/2 cups pasta
  • 1 cup 100% fruit juice and 1/2 banana

High carb, lowfat foods - such as those mentioned above - tend to digest easily, and maintain a stable blood sugar. In comparison, if you were to eat high fat foods (cheese, peanut butter, hamburgers) before your workout, you would feel sluggish, as these foods take longer to empty from the stomach.

The precise amount of carb you need will depend on the type and duration of exercise and the amount of time before the exercise session. A registered dietitian (like me!) can help you determine your exact numbers.

Post-Workout Meals (After endurance exercise or continuous stop and go exercise):

  • Should be eaten within 1-2 hours of completing exercise (ideally within the first 1/2 hour)
  • Should be a combined meal consisting of both carbohydrate and protein, providing .45 grams of carbohydrate + .1 gram of protein per pound of body weight

Assuming you weigh 175 pounds again:

175 pounds x .45 grams carbohydrate = 79 grams carbohydrate

175 pounds x .1 gram protein = 17.5 grams protein

The following choices all contain approximately 7 grams of protein:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 oz poultry, fish or meat
  • 1 cup milk or yogurt (also has ~15 grams of carbohydrate)
  • 1/4 cup nonfat or lowfat cottage cheese

So a sample post workout meal for a 175 pound man could look like any of the following:

  • Turkey sandwich (3 oz turkey on 2 slices whole wheat bread) + 1 banana + 1/2 cup OJ
  • 3/4 cup lowfat cottage cheese with 1 banana and 12 oz OJ
  • omelet made with 1 whole egg and 4 whites. Eat with 2 slices whole wheat bread. Drink 12oz OJ

Exercise Nutrition, Sports Nutrition, Everyday Nutrition

What you eat every day can have a big effect on your health. What you eat right before - and after - a workout is extra important. Wrong choices can lead to a dismal workout and lesser health benefits in return for all that exercise! Right choices can give you that competitive edge.

Just as seedlings need the proper balance of water and sunlight to grow, an exercise program requires proper nutrition at appropriate times for optimal results!

If you want more help on the specifics of your exercise nutrition from someone who has won fitness competitions (that would be me!) I hope you'll consider my professional services as a Registered Dietitian and Sports Nutrition expert. Contact me!

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